Assessment of preferential T-helper 1 or T-helper 2 induction by low molecular weight compounds using the local lymph node assay in conjunction with RT-PCR and ELISA for interferon-gamma and interleukin-4.

Research paper by R J RJ Vandebriel, W H WH De Jong, S W SW Spiekstra, M M Van Dijk, A A Fluitman, J J Garssen, H H Van Loveren

Indexed on: 19 Jan '00Published on: 19 Jan '00Published in: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology


The local lymph node assay (LLNA) is a new and promising test in mice used to identify contact allergens by means of dermal exposure. Experimentally this assay, which comprises a sensitizing phase only, is also used to identify respiratory allergens. Another, experimentally used test in mice to identify allergens is also based on dermal exposure, but comprises both a sensitizing and effector phase. In this latter test, it has been shown that contact allergens preferentially induce a T-helper 1 (TH1) response, whereas respiratory allergens preferentially induce a T-helper 2 (TH2) response. These responses can be discriminated on the basis of cytokine production, such as IFN-gamma, which is produced by TH1 cells, and IL-4, which is produced by TH2 cells. The aim of the study was to establish whether the LLNA was sufficient to not only identify allergens but also mark them as either a contact or a respiratory allergen. To this end, LLNA responses to the contact allergen dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) and the respiratory allergen trimellitic anhydride (TMA) were determined using IFN-gamma and IL-4 mRNA expression and production as parameters. Topical application of TMA resulted in a threefold higher lymphocyte proliferation compared to DNCB 3 and 5 days after the first application, while a similar proliferation was found from Day 7 and onward. RT-PCR showed a similar induction of IFN-gamma and IL-4 mRNA expression. While both DNCB and TMA induced IFN-gamma production, TMA but not DNCB induced IL-4 production. Thus, only IL-4 production seemed a suitable parameter to discriminate between the two compounds. In a second study, the respiratory allergens toluene-2,4-diisocyanate (TDI) and phthalic anhydride (PA) were also assayed 7 days after the first application. Topical application of DNCB and PA resulted in a similar lymphocyte proliferation, while application of TMA and TDI resulted in a 1.8-fold higher proliferation. IFN-gamma production was similar for DNCB, TMA, and TDI, and fourfold lower for PA, while IL-4 production was similar for TMA, TDI, and PA, and 24-fold lower for DNCB. In summary, both studies showed induction of IL-4 production by respiratory allergens, with little or no induction by the contact allergen, holding promise for the possibility of identifying respiratory allergens within the LLNA by measuring IL-4 production 7 days after the first application.